Best Man Speech Guide
So, this is the tough part of being a best man – delivering a speech. If like most people you’ve had little or no experience of speech writing and delivery then fear not, we at iamthebestman are here to support you! Below, in the form of a Q&A, is our guide to help get you started.
What’s the point of the best mans speech?
The most important thing for all of the speeches is that you should remember when it comes to gathering material is to ask yourself this very simple question: what do you want to say? This is the point in the day when you get to express your thoughts and feelings to everyone there. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit nerve-wracking but it’s also a tremendous privilege to be able to have that sort of opportunity, so use it – say something from the heart that people will remember. Your speech should also look to include some humour and people expect a bit of light hearted banter at the groom’s expense!
It might sound obvious but often we often get caught up in what we’re supposed to say and forget that this is their chance to tell their best friend, wife, or daughter what they think of them. If the groom is a mate who has always been there for you then this is the point to say so. This honest statement of how you feel is the sort of thing that can make for the most effective toasts and it’s what people will remember.
How long in advance should I start preparing?
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Three or four weeks is recommended.
How long should it be?
You should aim for your speech to be under ten minutes and ideally last between five and eight minutes. Even if you’re a brilliant speaker 15 mins is the absolute maximum.
What is the basic structure?
- Introduce yourself, thank previous speakers
- Talk about the groom (and the bride if you know her) – do this humorously but not destructively
- Give an outsiders perspective on the couple’s relationship
- Toast the bride and groom
- Possibly read correspondence or hand back over to the MC
Should I speak to the bride about the speech?
Absolutely! Not only will she have good material, she will also be able to fill you in on the important biographical information about their relationship that you might not know. You should find out where they met, how they became a couple, what sort of things they enjoy doing (without getting graphical!) and how the groom proposed – whether he made a mess of it or if he was sweet about it.
Where do I get the content for stories?
The more people you can get to help with your speech the better it will be. As the best man you will probably have two or three good stories that demonstrate what sort of bloke the groom is. But once you speak to other people connected to him you could end up with 10 or 11 good stories to choose from.
Don’t forget to include your fellow stags (pass a notebook round at the stag-do, or post stag emails), colleagues from his work, his parents and brothers and sisters, notable people from other places in his life such as people on the same sports teams or in the same societies.
Good questions to ask these people are: what classic stories can you tell me about him? How would you sum up the groom? Has he ever said anything particularly funny? What is he well-known for? What makes him angry? Do they have any funny photos or material that they could send to you connected to the groom?
Should I use additional materials such as photos, video etc?
If you have a lot of photos and videos that you want to use then you need to prepare well in advance. For instance you need to make sure that the venue you are going to has the correct audio-visual equipment for you to use.
Try and simplify things where possible – print out the photos onto a sheet of paper which you can distribute to the tables rather than projecting them. If you are using video then you need at least one rehearsal in the venue before the big day, to make sure you know how loud the video is, how to control the equipment and so on.
- When writing your speech use a 12 point Arial font, which is formatted to have 1.5 line spacing as this is one of the easiest fonts to read when stood up.
- If you do this each page when read out should last approximately one and a half minutes.
- If you’d rather write your speech onto cue cards then that’s fine but it’s better to have a copy of the speech with you written in full on the day just in case your mind goes blank.
- Don’t forget, your sweat-stained, note-covered speech makes a really nice keepsake/present. If you’re the best man or father of the bride why not offer to frame all the speeches and, presto, you’ve got a simple, but incredibly thoughtful gift.
Stop writing a decent amount of time before the actual wedding (at least a week or so) as you’ll doubtless have plenty else to deal with in the run-up to the big day itself and you won’t want to rush to finish the speech the night before.
Should I share it with anyone before the big day?
Sharing with one or two close confidants who you can rely on to keep the content under wraps is a good idea so you can test drive the material. This is a common method used by stand up comedians and musicians do see how their new material is received. So if it works for McKintyre then that’s good enough for us! It’ll also help you fish out anything that could be taken the wrong way before its too late. All in all it helps determine if you’re on the right track or not.
Should I rehearse it out loud in advance?
Yes! The rule of thumb is to read out and practice your speech from start to finish a minimum of three times. It’s amazing how differently some things can sound when read out loud than when written down and you don’t want to find that out for the first time in front of a wider audience. Practicing it this many times will also help you become much more familiar with the material and so when you’re reading it out on the day you may get to the point when you refer to it rather than read it word for word.
Do I need to learn the speech off by heart?
You don’t have to no, but it looks and sounds more natural if can do so by to avoid reading from a piece of paper. If you know the material well it will allow you to project your voice out towards the audience rather than down at what you’re reading. It will also allow you to look around the room which means you’ll come across as more engaging. Finally if you know the speech well it will help you overcome any nerves. If you know it well you can go in to auto pilot and not have to worry about keeping your place on the page.
Our advice is take it to bed and practice reading it out loud to yourself. “I took mine to bed and read it before I went to sleep for a fortnight before the wedding day, and it really helped me.”
Should I drink on the day to calm my nerves?
For those of us who have had the experience of seeing a best man drunk let us be clear – it is not a pretty sight. Our advice is moderate your drinking and air on the side of caution. Many best men nowadays have little more than glass of champagne at the reception before making their speech to ensure they’re at their best. So in short, retrain yourself from the booze until the speech is delivered, after which you can reward your good efforts till your hearts content.
What other advice can you give me?
The classic mistake people make is to try and write the perfect speech at the beginning, don’t. Just complete it and then refine it. It’s so much easier to re-write something than it is to write it. Good luck.